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Solly signs off

Friday, 19th February, 2010

* Dean Solomon announced his  retirement yesterday after a decorated  209-game career. * Dean Solomon announced his retirement yesterday after a decorated 209-game career.

"Everyone has been right behind me throughout the years and I've always known it. It's been great." - Solomon on Broken Hill football supporters

Former local Dean Solomon has called an end to his AFL career with Fremantle after struggling to overcome recurring knee problems.

Solomon was recently informed by two separate surgeons that his right knee was so badly damaged that he would have no chance of making it through another AFL game, let alone a full season.

The Dockers utility fought back tears as he announced his retirement yesterday, ending a career spanning 12 years and 209 games, which included the 2000 premiership with Essendon."I've seen two surgeons in the last week and the outlook they gave me is I've got zero per cent chance of playing football again," Solomon told a packed media conference, with his Fremantle team-mates watching on from behind the cameras.

"So unfortunately on that advice I had no choice. "I'll have to have an operation similar to (former Dockers ruckman) Justin Longmuir in the next three years to give me more life in the knee after football. "It is a bit scary. "At the moment I'm even struggling to run and do the simple things, so it's been frustrating."

Solomon had signed a one-year contract extension to play on in 2010, but a training mishap during a handball drill leading up to Christmas ruined those plans. Fremantle coach Mark Harvey described Solomon as "old school" and said the veteran would be sorely missed."Today the opposition would be happy he's retiring ... because of the way he played the game," Harvey said. "He always played for the team. "It wasn't about him. You could always throw a challenge to him." Solomon made his AFL debut in 1998 and played 158 games for Essendon before being offloaded to Fremantle at the end of 2006.

The 30-year-old played 51 games for the Dockers over three seasons, with his willingness to put his body on the line a feature of his game. "Hopefully I leave with my teammates knowing every time I went onto the field I gave 100 per cent and always committed my body in any way I possibly could," Solomon said.

"I never let them down I feel. "Some disciplinary areas maybe but if there was a 50-50 ball or I had to put my body on the line I'd always do that." But his elbow on Cameron Ling in 2008, which left the Geelong midfielder with a fractured cheekbone and cost Solomon an eight-week suspension, left a black mark on his career.

In my mind that's done and dusted and I'm just going to remember the good things I've achieved," Solomon said. "A lot of people may remember that incident and bring it up but I hope those people remember the good footy I did play and I was part of a pretty good side at Essendon as well."

Solomon said it was a dream come true to be able to finish his career with best friend and former Magpie Chris Tarrant by his side. "I've enjoyed every minute I've had to play on the field with Taz," he said.

"He's a great player and more important a great mate. "If I can't work something out I'll have a chat with him. "He's very good on thinking about things and coming back to help me out." Speaking after the press conference, Solomon told the BDT his retirement had put his mind at ease as he prepares for the next chapter of his life. "In a way it's a bit of a relief, some pressure off the shoulders," he said. "It will be good not having to worry about all the training, playing, and just preparing day in day out at the top level. I'll be able to get into the routine of a normal life." His future will still be linked to the Dockers however, after he accepted a coaching and mentoring role within the club. "It's great that the Freo footy club have given me the opportunity to get involved with the coaching side of things."I'll still be able to be around the guys and the club, and remain involved in our young group and help them going forward.

Solomon said he would have a number of roles in his new position, with a focus on assisting the Dockers' junior stars. "It will be somewhere between a Development Coach and an Assistant Coach, mainly working with the first to third-year players to fast track their development and their knowledge of the game. "I'll also be doing a lot of game day stuff like opposition match ups, and I think it should be a great experience. "It should give me a good feel about whether coaching is something I'd like to go ahead with - it will be like an apprenticeship in a way."

Having already completed Level Two coaching certificate, Solomon said the idea of coaching had risen in prominence as the end of his career approached. "I have thought about it and it's something I've been prepared for. As a player you never know when you're going to finish."

With his career now at an end, Solomon saved his final expressions of thanks for the people of Broken Hill and his family - most notably his grandfather Keith. "I'd like to thank all the people of Broken Hill - be they from North, South, Central or West. "Everyone has been right behind me throughout the years and I've always known it. It's been great. "I'd also like to thank my family, Mum and Dad, aunties and uncles... and I'd really like to thank my Pop. "He watched me in Broken Hill from my first game to my last game when I left for Bendigo, he never missed a match. "He's been my number one supporter and I'll forever be in his debt for all the love and support he's given me." AAP/BDT

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